Being competitive.

Sarah - posted on 03/19/2011 ( 18 moms have responded )

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I was talking to someone the other day (I don't really know them that well) and she was saying that if her daughter came second in race at Sports Day or whatever, she would say to her daughter "Well, you lost. There is no second place, there's only first place that counts."

I can't imagine being that way with my 2 girls (especially as I was shit at sports! lol).

The woman I was talking to also said that it made her daughter all the more determined to win at things the next time around. I kind of get that, but from personal experience, I know that kind of "incentive" doesn't work for every child.

When my Dad used to say to me and my sister "You'll end up in a crap job.....you'll never amount to anything!" My sister set out to prove him wrong. Whereas I just thought "Yeah, you're probably right!"

So how competitive do you like your kids to be? Is there no such thing as 2nd place? Should we be careful about how different kids will react to being told such things?

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Amie - posted on 03/19/2011

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If my kids are interested in something and want to put their effort towards it, they are competitive. More so with themselves though.



Our oldest has moved up 5 ranks in a year and a half of Navy cadets. She's been chosen each time for their extra activities since she joined, from away weekends to camp (they have limited spots and only take the dedicated cadets). She's up for her 2nd belt promotion in 6 months of Mano Mano classes. She's in two competitions for dance this year. These are the extras that she cares about - she works her butt off and knows that by doing so she will get where she wants to be. She enjoys other activities, she runs track and while she is not the strongest runner she has fun doing it and tries her hardest. So when she came in 3rd at city finals- I had no issue with it.



Our son is the same way and our younger two - well they're too small yet to tell one way or the other for sure but I'm optimistic they'll be just as driven as our older two. Maybe not in the same things but they'll find their niche.



There is such a thing as second place. No one can be first in everything. To teach a child they need to strive for first place creates a poor winner when (if) they get there. So long as they are having fun, doing their best and continually driving themselves to do better - then that I have no issue with. Parents need to step back and let their children find their drive. Unless you're talking about school - then some pushing here and there is warranted. This part gets muddy though, I'd be just as proud of any of our kids if they went into a trade as opposed to years of uni for a degree. So long as they continue their education to a career somewhere and are happy with their choice - I am happy.



I "push" my children to be excellent, so long as it's what they enjoy as well. I don't want miserable children, I want happy children. Even as adults, if they love what they are doing and providing for themselves (and families if they have them) - that's all that matters in the end.

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April - posted on 03/19/2011

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I'm competitive. My dad made me that way. He did it to my sisters and i. I became competitive and (without trying to boast) am very good at a lot of the things i try. My sister on the other hand, became a bit shy and believed she was too stupid no matter how many times i'd convince her otherwise and my youngest sister became the same as me.

My dads not a bad man whatsoever he just wanted us to be the best at whatever we did and i get that but in the case of my sister it didn't work out so well. It's not for everyone.

I'm not going to use the same technique on my children that our dad used on us because i don't want my son or daughter to feel like what my sister felt. I can encourage them in other ways :)

April - posted on 03/19/2011

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Sara's softball story reminds me of the one year I played with the Coach's daughter. She spent the whole season doing cartwheels in right field! Clearly, she wasn't interested in softball, so why push YOUR sport on your child? I was a fast pitch pitcher and would love for my son or any future children to follow in my footsteps and be a pitcher, as well. BUT...if they suck at it or plain just don't enjoy it, I'd do what Sara's dad with her. I'd encourage them to spend more time on what they love/are good at.

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Competition is good and healthy. But not being good enough unless you're number one is very unhealthy. And yes, we should approach competition differently with each kid.

I was the kid that wanted to try everything. My parents had to encourage me towards the things I had a natural affinity for, and discourage me from those things I didn't. Not that they were mean about my lack of talent on the softball field. But I was naturally a better dancer so they encouraged me to focus on that. They came to all recitals and performances. However, had I insisted on sticking with softball, they would have supported it. They did attend every single game the year my team came in dead last and I struck out 8 times out of 10. After that season I remember my dad sitting down to talk with me. He told me that I could be a better dancer if I had more time to focus on it, and that softball was taking away from that. He didn't say I was a bad softball player (though I was), but encouraged me to work on the thing I actually had talent for. I think the key was encouragement to be my best and support those efforts.

Johnny - posted on 03/19/2011

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It is a fine line to walk between encouraging and pushing too much. My dad was and still is one of those, "well, if we all had fun we all win" kind of people. To be honest, I wish he'd pushed me a bit more to be competitive. Being told that winning didn't matter did not raise my self-esteem, it just made me think that he assumed I couldn't win and he just wanted to make me feel better about it. I still felt like a loser, but I also didn't see any point in trying harder. That's not too positive. Only as I am growing older am I learning to strive more and fight for my own successes more.

I think this lady in the OP is going about it wrong. But I do think it is good to encourage your kids to always try harder. I'm still trying to figure out how I am going to handle this issue with my daughter, but I know I want to try to find a middle space where I can encourage and inspire her to achieve her best without making her feel like she can't or as if she hasn't tried hard enough.

Charlie - posted on 03/19/2011

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It's not about the place it's the effort put forth , that woman sounds like a gem *eyeroll*

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Winning is good, but IMO.... participation, trying their best, having fun, being active, and learning about things (whether it's new gymnastics tricks, academics, or being part of a team) is what really counts. Focusing only on being number one is stupid cuz NO ONE can be number one all the time.

Bonnie - posted on 03/19/2011

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My kids are still small so I haven't thought that far yet, but really, at this point, all I really want is for them to try hard and do their best. I don't like pushing.

Some kids feel they have to be the absolute best because of this and they become miserable.

April - posted on 03/19/2011

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I saw this on a tee shirt once: SECOND PLACE IS THE FIRST LOSER. Sounds like the woman you were talking about! I don't agree with making your child feel bad when clearly she tried her hardest. My children don't have to be the best at everything, but they do have to give it their all. I do hope my son and any future children will be as ambitious as I am. I like to be #1, but that's who I am. In the sports world, it is more important to me that they try and that they're having fun. I will probably be more strict with academics...I am not saying I expect to produce valedictorians, but I will be encouraging them to strive to earn as many A's as they can.

Mrs. - posted on 03/19/2011

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I think it depends on the child. This woman sounds like she has her own mantra and attitude about failure that she is projecting on her children.

Personally, though, I always thrive under critique, constructive or otherwise. I think others do too.

When I used to teach drama to people in their early twenties, I noticed they were quite a bit different than my generation. They looked honestly shocked and offended if any critique or not was given - they took it personally. It was like they had never been given a note or been spoken to in anything other than a positive light. I could say it was my teaching but they were like that with other teachers.

Things have changed and swayed way over to the coddling side. Which is fine, for some. But, what about the students who are like me? The ones who do well when they are given a push and challenged? Now, those people, of that generation, are being swept under the rug.

I mean, I remember the school I was working for saying to just be positive and never give "real" notes because there would be too many complaints.....

Come on!

Desiree - posted on 03/19/2011

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Yes there is such a thing as second place, there is even something called 1st place from behind (Husband never calls it last) but it just means working harder for the goals you want in life. I would prefer my children to come 2nd at least that way they always have something to strive for. When you are the best and always at the top where do you go to from there...?

Rosie - posted on 03/19/2011

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i think it's incredibly counter productive to act that way towards your child, whether it's sports, academics whatever. there are better ways to motivate other than tear than down. i will NEVER take part in tearing my sons self esteem to shreds, fuck that.

Jenn - posted on 03/19/2011

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First of all, I can't believe that someone would say that to their child! :O In my mind, second place is pretty damn good - you still did better than most other people in the race - even third or fourth - still a great job worth recognition IMO. I am, however, not a fan of the whole "everyone's a winner" thing. I think it's important to recognize that Joe Blow came in first place and he did an excellent job, but I don't think it needs to be said that anything other than first place is nothing.

Sneaky - posted on 03/19/2011

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Sarah, that almost made me cry :o( How can anyone tell a kid that tried their hardest to do something that they were not good enough? I do understand wanting your kids to try hard, but telling a kid something like that? It's mean, it's cruel and I feel sooooo bad for that kid. How sure is the mother that the kid is not going to feel constantly beaten down?

Nikki - posted on 03/19/2011

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I don't have a competitive bone in my body, except for drinking games in my early 20's! I have never needed to be first or the best at something. As long as I can say I gave it my all and did the best I could I am happy. That is all I wish for my daughter as well.

Bexterwhite - posted on 03/19/2011

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If a child tries really hard i say "that was great you did realy well" if they didnt try i say "i think if you had worked a bit harder you would have done better"
Its all relative,
I cant stand parents who push their kids to "beet" all other kids at all cost, the important thing is to do your best, and there is a second place, if your the second best runer in the school you are probebly the first best runner in the class, both are great "hooray for you!"

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